By Sam Dorman
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) reportedly used funds from Congress’s controversial Office of Compliance in an $84,000 sexual harassment settlement.
According to a report from Politico, Farenthold’s settlement came as part of a claim from Lauren Greene, his former communications director, that he sexually harassed her. Greene accused Farenthold of improperly firing her when she complained about Farenthold’s alleged inappropriate comments to her.
Greene claimed Farenthold drank excessively, among other things, and said he had sexual fantasies about her:
Greene claimed in the lawsuit that another Farenthold aide told her the lawmaker had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about Greene. She also claimed that Farenthold “regularly drank to excess” and told her in February 2014 that he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years.”
While no information was released regarding a private settlement Greene reportedly reached with Farenthold, Politico obtained a joint statement in which the two said they would settle in order to save taxpayer money:
“[A]fter it became clear that further litigating this case would come at great expense to all involved — including the taxpayers — the parties engaged in mediation with a court-appointed mediator,” the statement read. “After extensive discussion and consideration, the parties jointly agreed to accept the solution proposed by the mediator.”
The statement added: “The parties believe that the mediator’s solution saves the parties, and the taxpayers, significant sums that would be expended in further discovery and/or trial.”
The statement also states that Farenthold “disagrees strongly” with his client’s allegations and “adamantly denies that he engaged in any wrongdoing.” It says the settlement included a confidentiality agreement that precludes Greene and Farenthold from discussing the case and “expressly provides that both parties deny all liability.”
The Office of Congressional Ethics investigated Greene’s claims but concluded “there is not substantial reason to believe that Representative Farenthold sexually harassed or discriminated against [ex-staffer Lauren Greene], or engaged in an effort to intimidate, take reprisal against, or discriminate against [Greene] for opposing such treatment, in violation of House rules and federal law.”
Editor’s note: This story’s headline was updated to ensure clarity.